Gnarly

“This is a brutal and gnarly time to be a human.”

John Eldredge

We have a small birdhouse that served as home to a small, loud singing bird for a couple of years. He/she found better digs last year. The lease was picked up by sparrows. During the winter, a sparrow built a nest in the tiny house.

Several days ago, three grackles visited our yard and feeders. One perched on the front rail of the little bird house, looked inside and began tearing the nest out. The resident sparrow sat on top of the house and watched, but largely outsized he did nothing but pace. The grackle tried to get in, but was too large. I wondered if there were chicks, but this is not nesting time. Finally the home wrecker seemed satisfied and flew away and hasn’t been back.

Yesterday, the sparrow was sitting on the corner of the railing and obviously grieving, mourning—head hanging. I don’t always know what birds are thinking, but discernment of spirits was not necessary. That bird was hurting and discouraged. After a bit, she or he climbed into the house. Within a few seconds, another sparrow entered the birdhouse.

I don’t know what was going on inside. The couple may have finally gotten a room. But it was like discernment—I sensed that second bird just went in to be company for a grieving flock member. Or to help straighten up the place. It all happened in a few seconds. I don’t want you to think I’ve slid into bird-brain-ness. It sure was a Kingdom moment, for Carole and me.

An adult friend has recently received racial harassment. I had to question what “race” he is. He really is one of us. His skin is beautifully brown. I had never thought about that—he’s part of our extended family. I don’t know how to help him resettle his house.

These really are gnarly days to be a human—harder yet to live out Kingdom humanness. Even the best-intentioned words can sound trite or undo-able.

The coronavirus is a challenge. A preacher said that “corona” comes from the root word we also get “crown.” He seemed to know what he was talking about. (?) That pastor thinks it is a demonic agent to grab power and attention. How do we respond and react Kingdom-ly? Pray and wash our hands? Keep your hands off your face! Good advice and a tools to avoid illness.

I read that on average we touch our faces 23 times an hour. I can’t think without my left hand holding my head up. When I fret, I prop up my forehead with all my fingers. As I pause between these paragraphs I hold two fingers against my face. President Trump said he hadn’t put his hand on his face for a month—“…and I miss it.” A simple directive. Have you tried?

Paying attention for the drooping head is a Kingdom act. Eldredge says given the brutal time in which we live, “Feasting and celebrating are acts of spiritual warfare.” The mean birds—whether human or fowl—are about tearing things down. God’s Kingdom is about empowering, encouraging and building up. All possible when you sit with someone whose life is in shambles or headed that direction.

Kingdom living is the primary focus. I’m reading “The Gospel of Jesus as Simon Peter told to Mark.” I’m also focusing on Psalm One and asking what does it mean for me in a brutal, gnarly world?

“…Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come, The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news, (Mark 1:14b-15).

©2020 D. Dean Benton—wonderer, writer, witness

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